Monday, 22 July 2019

and whitey’s on the moon

While the achievements of Apollo 11 were universally awing and captivating, for those in America who were politically and civilly disenfranchised and marginalised, people were left wondering why such focus and resources weren’t also being committed to bring about social justice and eliminate inequality. This led influential jazz musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron (*1949 – †2011)—best remembered for his essay “The Revolution will not be Televised”—to compose “Whitey on the Moon” in the following year.  Though there’s no evidence for a connection of any kind, the opening cadence makes me think a little bit of the 1979 song from The Police, “Walking on the Moon.”

I can’t pay no doctor bill. 
(but Whitey’s on the moon) 
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still. 
(while Whitey’s on the moon)

Sunday, 21 July 2019

rajio taisō

Broadcast calisthenics (ラジオ体操), a morning staple in Japan and areas with a sizable Japanese diaspora—have been a popular routine since it was instituted nationwide on the ascension of Emperor Hirohito in 1928, the idea for radio exercises coming from a US life insurance company that sponsored a quarter of an hour regiment from the 1920s offered as one’s daily constitutional.
This approximately three-minute (that’s a commitment that I could make and make room for in between coffee and a shower and dashing off to catch the bus) programme, now under the auspices of Japan’s public broadcaster, is part of school curriculum, social groups and some businesses utilise it to energise employees and build morale and cohesion, but—knowing the structure by heart, many also tune individually—having grown up with the familiar format that’s remained the same for decades.  Learn more from The Guardian at the link above.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

statio tranquillitatas

Yet embroiled in a lawsuit levied against the US space agency by the founder of the American Atheist association for the astronauts’ recitation during Apollo 8’s lunar orbit during Christmas Eve of the first ten verses of the Book of Genesis and demanded that they refrain from evangelising while in space, after touching down on the Moon, in the six-hour interim before stepping outside the lander, flight engineer Buzz Aldrin—in that spirit—took Sunday communion in private.
A church elder of a Presbyterian congregation, his kit was prepared ahead of time by his pastor and the chalice used during the lunar ceremony is in possession of the church near Galveston, Texas where Johnson Space Center exists today. The chalice is used for a special commemoration on the Sunday closest to the original date each year. The remander of the time was a designated sleep-period, but too excited, the break was cut short. “This is the LM [Landing Module] pilot,” Aldrin said, taking the com, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

unternehmen walküre

On this day in 1944, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg orchestrated a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and remove the Nazi party from power. The culmination of several co-conspirators representing a coalition of resistance groups from across Germany, the coup d’état (Putsch) was to dislodge the party loyals and the Gestapo and make peace with the Western Allies as soon as possible.
The attempt to detonate an explosive planted in the conference room in the Wolfsschanze failed to achieve their objective and precipitated in the arrest and execution of hundreds of co-conspirators and a purge of military personnel—the army using the event as a pretence to settle old scores and a way to settle grudges even if there was only a very tenuous connection to the opposition. Had the plot succeeded, members had been designated ahead of time to assume government and cabinet positions and leave no room for others to claim power in the ensuing chaos, including Stauffenberg as the Minister of State to the War Department and staunch detractor of the Nazi regime Carl Friedrich Goerdeler as chancellor—though the latter was a source of incriminating evidence and was apparently willing to implicate others, consigning all to the same fate as martyrs. Despite the fact that the Führer’s reign of terror continued for almost another year afterwards with more death and destruction, the bravery of the plotters showed to the world that Germany was not monolithic in their thinking and outlook.

chryse planitia

Touching down on this day in 1976, the seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Viking 1 became the second probe to successfully reach Mars after the Soviet Union’s Марс-3 five years earlier—beginning what would turn out to be a rather incredible six-year monitoring mission (sadly, the previous effort failed after seconds) with a battery of biological experiments to search for evidence of life.

Scientists were also able to use this distant beacon that’s sometimes occulted by the Sun to confirm the phenomenon of gravitational time dilation as predicted by the theory of General Relativity, the Sun’s gravity causing delays in transmission times. The Viking sent back this incredible panoramic vista (landing site in the title) shortly after its arrival.

konkrete kunst

Here is a tondo (a circular enframed work of art, from the Italian rotondo, “round”) from Swiss artist Fritz Glarner (born on this day in 1899, †1972). Heavily influenced by painters of De Stijl movement, particularly the geometrical studies of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, Glarner’s style focused on “relational” schema as revealed through architectural patterns. Studying in Paris, Glarner spent most of his professional career in New York’s Long Island artist colony, before retiring to Locarno in 1966.

Friday, 19 July 2019


I think we are all this film review of the upcoming “live,” demented deep-dreaming nightmare adaptation of the musical Cats. So many questions that dare not seek answers.
The 1981 piece is based on a collection of epistolary poetry that T. S. Eliot (previously) composed to entertain his godchildren in the 1930s—presenting a sociological tract on a tribe of felines and their nomination of one of their members to ascend into a paradisaical afterlife and be reincarnated, and the new production, starring an ensemble cast of screen and stage luminaries projected onto cat-sized avatars, is seemingly riding the coattails of attempting to revive old properties with live-actors aided by digital graphics, dispensing the need for imagination and suspension of disbelief, illustrative of what happens when creative outlets are not constrained by a budget and no one has the courage of conviction to say when a project is going in the wrong direction.